Summer 365 Camper of the Week | Melissa Ben-Ishay, Baked by Melissa

6.27.14 by

What’s sweet, and tiny, and delicious all over?  Baked by Melissa cupcakes, of course!  And guess what, that Melissa is a real-life, camp-obsessed, creative genius, and we think it’s pretty sweet to have her as our Summer 365 Camper of the Week.  Melissa’s name and her miniature, original cupcakes have become the newest it-dessert, but Melissa’s camp love goes waaaay back! We are not surprised that s’mores, tie dye, and peanut butter and jelly are some of the most popular flavors on the BBM menu. Melissa attended Camp Sequoia, an 8-week sleepaway camp in upstate New York for five years, and definitely got her creative bug there!  She grew up in New Jersey and currently lives in Manhattan, where she is bringing her baked goods to every celebration near and far.

Baked by Melissa cupcakes are the perfect treat for any occasion and have definitely become one of the top requested visiting day treats by campers!!! And we’re pretty sure Melissa would be thrilled to see these babies popping up in bunks around the country… but only until the end of visiting day ;)

summer 365 camp sleepaway baked by melissa camper trips kids teens tours advice decision experts new york camps visiting day cupcakes

Melissa Ben-Ishay - 2

How has camp influenced what you do/your career path? 

Camp gave me the opportunity to be creative in so many ways I could have never imagined. I learned how to make my own candles, spin my own pottery bowl and create my own chair from blocks of wood. If I didn’t go to camp I would have never known I’m capable of these things! My creative experiences at camp were not only some of my most memorable activities, they also gave me confidence in my ability to create whatever I could think of. The same thought process goes for what I do today; create cupcakes!

What are your top three essentials that you packed in your trunk? 

My Smurfs comforter, umbros, flip-flops.

What are three words to describe your camp experience? 

Who. I. Am.

Who was someone at camp that you looked up to? 

The counselors. I’m forever grateful.

Why do you think it is important to go to camp? 

Camp teaches you so many lessons that parents can’t (or shouldn’t). Camp lets you get into trouble and learn from your mistakes without having any of the real life (serious) consequences – Camp also keeps kids out of trouble. Camp lets you live with your best friends in the whole world every day and night for 8 weeks straight. Camp promotes being well rounded by offering a daily schedule filled with activities ranging from waterskiing to tie-dying to REST HOUR. I’m so grateful that my parents sent me to camp and I hope to be able to do the same for my children one day.

What is your favorite camp memory? 

Food fights, silent meals, color war, raids, laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe – there’s no way I could name just one.

How has camp affected your adult life? Is there something you learned there that you still do today? 

Camp taught me how much I love being busy and getting things done. We used to have like 7 – 10 activities a day at camp. I thrived in that fast paced environment and still do today – I’m pretty sure that started at camp. Now my schedule consists more of meetings than sports and arts and crafts, but luckily I’ve found a profession that I enjoy as much and the baking and social media almost comes close to filling the camp void.

summer 365 camp sleepaway baked by melissa camper trips kids teens tours advice decision experts new york camps visiting day cupcakes

Words of wisdom for current and future campers? 

Participate in every activity even if you think you suck at it, you’ll be happy you did it when you’re a well-rounded adult.

Being homesick is totally normal, especially when you’re trying to fall asleep at night, but get over it. You only have a small window of time in your life to be a camper and you should enjoy every minute of it.

The ones you want to keep around will be your friends FOREVER – especially now that there’s Facebook and Instagram. When you’re 30 your favorite counselor will be like 35, which is basically the same age. Nurture the relationships now, your adult self will be so appreciative.

What is your favorite camp tradition? 

Color War

What was your favorite camp food? 

“Ohhhh I get weak in the knees when I eat chicken pat-eeees” (chant voice).

What is your favorite camp cheer? 

All of them. If it were socially acceptable to stand on my chair in a crowded NYC restaurant and scream at the top of my lungs with all of my best friends I would totally still do it. Best natural stress reliever I can think of.

A medley of my favorite cheers:

“Rachel and Who! Rachel and Who! Rachel and George, that’s who! Rachel who!? Rachel who!? Rachel Abramson – that’s who! George who!? George who?! George Mayyyy, that’s who!…Down by the river where nobody knows, there say Rachel without any… We love you Rachel you know we do, we love you Rachel you know its true! When you’re not nearrrr us we’re blue! Oh Rachel we love you! – Yes we do!”

What is your favorite movie about camp/that you saw at camp? 

About camp: Camp NowhereWet Hot American Summer (most realistic), Indian Summer.

Saw at camp: Any movie shown on the softball field.

What did you prefer – pool or lake? 

Pool for swimming lake for sitting around doing nothing and getting to walk through boys’ side on the way.

Sports or arts? 


Favorite canteen candy? 

One chocolate based item and one ice cream – no wonder I was a chub.

Favorite / most requested item on visiting day? 

My dad’s homemade sushi, Cup-A-Noodle, Trading Post sandwiches, and caramel apple lollipops.

What was your favorite camp activity? 


What is your favorite camp word/expression? 

Love you, mean it.

Favorite camp memento? 

Old color war and evening activity t-shirts

Did you ever get homesick at camp?  How did you deal with that? 

Yep. I cried for hours one night when I was trying to fall asleep so they took me to the infirmary – I guess the infirmary could fix anything? I wound up going back to my bunk and falling asleep because the crying wore me out. The next morning I woke up and everything was fine. There’s no point in being homesick, it does absolutely nothing. Your parents spend a lot of money to send you to camp and they miss you SO much, they’ll feel bad if they hear you’re homesick, so if for no other reason, be strong for them.

Everyone loves a camp love story…got anything good for us? 

I met my best friends at camp – no relationships compare to the ones formed at camp. My maid of honor was my best friend from camp. Even the bond campers build with the idea of camp itself, it’s something that people who didn’t go to camp will never ever understand and the ones that did, well, even if they went to a different camp, we have that in common and its awesome.

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For the latest happenings, flavors, and droolworthy photos that will make you crave cupcakes all day long follow Melissa and Baked by Melissa on Instagram @bakedbymelissa and @lillistcupcake

p.s. we will be dreaming of this all summer long



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